Blog Template Theology of the Body: Martyrs of the English Schism

Monday, April 27, 2009

Martyrs of the English Schism

Blesseds Thomas Green, Robert Salt, and Walter Pierson were Carthusian priests and religious who refused to join the ranks of their co-religious in taking Henry VIII’s infamous anti-papal Act of Supremacy in 1537. In the weeks following their refusal to apostasize, the brothers who had remained faithful to the pope were brought to a London prison, where they were chained in a standing position in their cells and left to starve to death. The three consecrated men died together in June, 1537.

Half a century later, the persecution of Catholics was still going strong in Protestant England. Blessed Francis Ingleby, an Oxford student who was ordained in France in his early twenties, bravely returned to England to serve his fellow English Catholics who were being persecuted under Henry’s heir, Elizabeth I. Father Ingleby was arrested for the exercise of his Catholic ministry in 1586 and was tried in a sham trial where the records show that he was not permitted to utter a single sentence in self-defense. Following his refusal to recant his allegiance to the Pope, Father Ingleby was sentenced to death by being drawn and quartered in June of 1586.

Saint Margaret Clitherow was an English housewife who suffered martyrdom while pregnant by peine forte et dure for her hospitality to Father Ingleby and other English Catholic priests. Her story has recently been celebrated in the new film entitled The Pearl of York, which has been picking up many glowing awards and reviews.

A Catholic contemporary of these English martyrs commented on their trials as follows: “the English authorities… cannot abide that the people should hear us speak any word… in defense or manifestation of our Catholic cause.” (qtd Magnificat entry Tuesday, June 3, 2008, p 60)